By Jasmine Timm
A couple weekends ago, my husband and I worked our way through The Lord of the Rings movies. If you know anything about the movies or books, it is an intense story of good versus evil. As we watched, there were several instances where we found ourselves hiding our faces behind blankets, wondering if evil was going to win after all. Throughout most of the series, I had more questions than answers, and it was agonizing to sit patiently through the movies waiting for answers.
In one particular scene, about halfway through the entire series, I found myself losing hope for the “good guys.” The evil forces seemed to be taking over, and Gandalf, the leader of the good guys (who also serves as a type of Christ), was nowhere to be found. What was astounding, though, was that Gandalf’s companions had not given up hope. The scene unfolding before them looked truly hopeless, but they held out hope that Gandalf was good and that he could be trusted. And surely enough, Gandalf showed up in the end.
We face a similar predicament as human beings living in a fallen world. We are surrounded by evil and suffering, and often have more questions than answers. We attempt to answer such weighty questions as, “Why does a good God allow suffering and evil to exist in the world?” Although we may have crafted some form of an answer, we are never truly satisfied. We are like spectators in The Lord of the Rings, having more questions than answers as evil unfolds before our eyes, wondering whether we can trust our Great Leader.
We can learn something from the characters in The Lord of the Rings. In the midst of having very few answers, they resolved to hold firm to their belief that Gandalf was good and reliable and that he would show up to help them — maybe not in the way they expected or in the time frame they had hoped for — but he would show up. Gandalf was good to them, even in the midst of confusion.
As we read through the book of Joshua, we may at times have more questions than answers. We may be confused over why God commanded certain things to take place or why He allowed certain things to come to pass. But we miss the point of the whole book if we get distracted by our questions. The book of Joshua provides a wonderful opportunity for us to see that God is supremely good and reliable, even when we do not understand all He does or all He allows.
There is a theory in the field of psychology called “object constancy,” which supposes that an object can continue to exist even when it cannot be seen, touched or sensed. It is widely held in psychological circles that in order for a person to have emotional maturity, they must possess the ability to have “object constancy.” In other words, emotional maturity looks like being able to hold two seemingly opposing things in tension, while remaining committed to the belief that the two opposing things do not need to cancel each other out. Gandalf can still be good and reliable even if the situation unfolding before his people looks bleak. And God can still be good and reliable even when we lack answers to the questions we hold about the world and His workings. Emotional maturity as a Christian means that we can have questions and hold confusion, yet remain convinced that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. At the end of the day, it all comes down to what we believe about God’s character — is He good, or is He not? If He is good — and He has revealed Himself to be so all throughout Scripture and creation — then we can trust Him even in the midst of confusion.
As we read through the book of Joshua, we will likely have questions, and that is ok. But we must always come back to God’s character. He is good, He is kind, He is reliable, and He can be trusted. God does not always afford us the answers we wish for, but He is constant. And He is good. As we study together, we can encourage one another to keep our gaze firmly fixed on the good character of God, and we need one another to remind ourselves of this. God has given us the church — His body, made up of different people from varying generations and personalities and opinions — to help us remain committed to hoping in His goodness. It is a good thing to have a sister who is different from you in your group, for she may remind you of aspects of God’s goodness that you may have otherwise overlooked.
As we proceed in studying together, may we be like Job, who in the midst of suffering and confusion was brought to say to the Almighty,
“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you?I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”Job 40:4-5
It is a good thing to be humbled before God like Job was. And it is a good thing when God says to us,
“I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right? Have you an arm like God, and can you thunder with a voice like his?”Job 40:7-9
God does not mean for us to have all the answers to everything. God alone holds all understanding and wisdom. He gives us permission to not know everything, and He reveals Himself over and over again to be good and trustworthy. May we humble ourselves before this mighty, all-knowing God, who is always good and who always uses His power and knowledge in a way that not only glorifies Himself but helps His humble people. He is good, and goodness will always have the final say.